15 December 2023

The Texas horror and the Republican dilemma

As I write this, it appears that the tormenting of Kate Cox is over.  Condemned by Texas law and judges to continue a pregnancy which endangered her future ability to have children and her very life, she has apparently left the state to secure an abortion elsewhere.

But the case exposed, yet again, the profound horror of forced-birth laws.  If Cox had stayed, she would have ended up as a human sacrifice offered up by ignorant barbarians lost in the darkness of medieval taboo and superstition.  The men who now rule Texas are gibbering primitives incapable of grasping the realities revealed by modern medicine, thirsting to reduce women to slaves and blood offerings on the altar of the foul and savage god conjured from the fever dreams of their sputtering, rotted-out brains.

So long as these vile laws, these disgusting violations of the personal freedom of women and girls, continue to exist at all, there will be an endless parade of cases like this -- more ten-year-old rape victims, more women suffering from dangerous pregnancy complications which Bible-befuddled legislators and judges are too stupid to understand.  Of course, it's an outrage for any woman or girl to be forced to go through with an unwanted pregnancy, even if there are no such additional evils heaped upon it, but it's the most extreme cases that capture the public's imagination and clarify the issue best.

Some Republican politicians have realized the electoral problem this creates for them -- and have responded with abject displays of the cowardice which has come to define them.  Nikki Haley's statement was typical:

"We don't want any women to sit there and deal with a rare situation and have to deliver a baby in that sort of circumstance any more than we want women getting an abortion at 37, 38, 39 weeks," Haley said, emphasizing that she is "pro-life."  "We have to humanize the situation and deal with it with compassion."

This is a completely binary question.  There exist only two possible answers.  Either a woman in Cox's situation should be allowed to have an abortion or she should not.  There can be no in-between or halfway position.  Haley needed to declare clearly which view she holds.  Her response was pure evasion and fudging, reflecting a desperate wish that the question would just go away.

But it won't go away.  From now to November there are bound to be more such horror cases in the news -- and as the election approaches, Democrats will flood the country with ads reminding voters of the real-world consequences of the Republicans' forced-birth fetish.

But what if the Republicans were to renounce forced-birthism?  The majority of voters already consider the Democrats, overall, to be more extremist and crazy than the Republicans, identifying the former with views on crime, "reparations", trans ideology, illegal immigration, etc which repulse and outrage most Americans.  If the Republicans could convincingly repudiate their opposition to abortion, surely the result would be the biggest red wave ever, with Republican landslides all over the country?

Unfortunately for them, it's not that simple.  Fundamentalists and traditionalist Catholics remain militantly opposed to abortion and want to see it outlawed.  They're a minority of the US population, but not a small one, and for many of them, this issue is their biggest reason for voting Republican.  Yes, a Republican party that accepted abortion would win millions of mainstream voters who would feel that they could finally vote against the Democrats' lunatic positions without endangering an essential freedom -- but it would also alienate much of its own voting base.

A similar dilemma applies to the Republicans' Trump problem.  Trump does repel many centrist voters who would support a more "normal" Republican like Haley or Christie.  (This is not just my opinion.  Recent polling shows that 7% of the electorate are "Biden-Haley voters" -- in a Trump-Biden race they would choose Biden, but in a Haley-Biden race they would choose Haley.)  But much of the Republican base idolizes Trump and would regard any other nominee as a betrayal -- and Trump himself, if someone else were to get the nomination, would surely rage and rant and turn his followers against the hapless candidate out of sheer spite.

That problem, at least, will go away when Trump dies.  It's hard to see what would make the abortion dilemma go away.

It's fundamentals like this which I think are most relevant to projecting the likely outcome of future elections.  Polls a year in advance are not very predictive because the parties aren't yet trying very hard to engage the voters' attention, and wild-card events could change the dynamics of the election in the meantime.  But the effects of the abortion issue, post-Dobbs, seem likely to remain very stable over time.


Blogger NickM said...

As I see it the problem Trump has is that he isn't a moral man by any standard including Christianity so he feels he needs to make this Faustian pact with the fundies and they likewise with him. I don't think he cares about abortion personally. Or indeed about anything much other than Donald J Trump.

Such alliances of convenience have a tendency to end badly - Molotov-Ribbentrop for example. I hope the general consequences for the USA (and the rest of us) aren't too bad if it comes to that.

15 December, 2023 02:25  
Blogger Leanna said...

From what I know, there is an underground railroad of sorts that will safely and securely get you out of Texas to a safe location to have a much-needed abortion. It's free of charge but they do take donations. I'm glad they got her out. The only problem is when she comes back. Will she go to prison? Personally, I hope the family relocates out of Texas to a safer Blue state.

15 December, 2023 13:02  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

The whole thing was ridiculous. Hopefully women in that state will just leave the state and get an abortion elsewhere instead of putting themselves through all of that nonsense.

15 December, 2023 13:14  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

I don’t think there’s that many in the Republican Party that thinks the abortion issue is a plus for them now, I think they’re terrified of the backlash. Be careful what you wish for-

And this AG Ken Paxton in Texas, this guy is the embodiment of everything wrong with the Republicans today, What a scumbag, him & that wife of his. Shamelessly corrupt fascists

16 December, 2023 06:55  
Anonymous Annie said...

I continue to believe that abortion will be key to saving our democracy. This is the most significant removal of a right that had existed, and stories about women who want to be pregnant, have doctors who say their lives or health are in danger, and are willing to tell their urgent stories are moving people who were not otherwise persuaded. Florida now will have to confront the reality of 150,000 Republican women who signed petitions to get an abortion rights referendum on the ballot, ensuring that will happen. Women will not allow The Handmaid’s Tale to become an American story. Note: Nikki Haley, hypocritical opportunist extraordinaire, has already said she supports a federal abortion ban. I’m sure she wants compassion for all the women/families she’d destroy!

16 December, 2023 14:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: I'm sure Trump doesn't personally care much about abortion one way or the other. Unfortunately that makes little practical difference. He still made the Supreme Court appointments which led to the overturning of Roe, for example. Whether he does something out of conviction or because he knows he needs to keep the support of the fundies, the practical result is the same.

Leanna: Various transport-assistance networks are developing. I agree that it would be dangerous for Cox to return to Texas -- whatever the law says, they'd likely find some basis for prosecuting her. They're basically in Salem-witch-trial mode at this point.

Mary K: It's absurd that women in certain states now need to travel hundreds of miles for basic medical treatment. I hope many will move out of those states entirely, but for most people that's a big economic wrench.

Reaganite: I think most Republican politicians now realize forced-birthism is a vote-loser for them -- but the true believers among the voting base aren't going to give up on it, and the politicians are as gutless about dealing with the issue straightforwardly as they have been about confronting Trump. If Haley's evasive squid-ink is an example of the best they can do, they're a long way from being able to clearly and unequivocally drop their abortion-ban mania.

I'm starting to doubt that Haley is the potential Republican savior she's being painted as. She doesn't seem to stand solidly for anything. She came out with that idiotic remark about banning internet anonymity and then immediately backtracked when she got a tsunami of criticism from both left and right (that's something most people on both sides can agree on, it seems). Now she's being evasive about abortion. I think her support will erode as people realize that she can't establish clear positions and stick to them. At least with Trump, you always know what he means even if it's bullshit.

Annie: The results of votes taken since Dobbs certainly support that. It's one thing to oppose abortion rhetorically and because you need to fit in with the people you know at church, knowing that Roe would protect your right to it if you ever needed it -- but it's quite another thing when you're in the privacy of the voting booth and know that they really could take it away now.

If I remember correctly, there isn't a single state where support for a federal abortion ban is over 30%. They're really playing with fire pushing for that. Only the real religious extremists want it.

16 December, 2023 23:37  

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